DVD Review: Jeruzalem (Israel, 2015)

Another month, another found footage horror film. Well, ostensibly. You see, Jeruzalem approaches the sub-genre with (credit where it’s due) an interesting new take, but still manages to completely cock it up by the end. Which isn’t anything new for these films but seeing the opportunity unfurl and then burn right in front of your eyes is disappointing.

The plot – as is par for the course – stays on the straight and narrow for the most part. In ancient scriptures and biblical literature, it is written that there are 3 gates on earth, that lead to hell. One of those is in Jerusalem.

After the death of her brother, Sarah’s best friend Rachael whisks her away to Israel in an effort to help her move on. Here they meet up with Kevin, a frequent traveler interested in the undead. Once they arrive at their hostel and begin to explore Jerusalem, it isn’t long before hell literally breaks loose and the group must find a way out of the city.

The kicker and crux of the film is that Sarah has a pair of Smart Glass Eyewear (not to be confused with Xbox’s companion app “Smart Glass” and not to be confused with Google’s “Glass” Eyewear – Ok you’re confused) that she wears for the duration of the film. These are the literal lenses in which we see the film.

It honestly feels like a 90 minute advertisement for this new technology, as texts and Skype calls pop up and Sarah routinely tells the device to snap a photo or navigate her.
Regardless, it is one of the few points of the film that I enjoyed. Sure there were a couple of silly moments of convenience that forced her to keep them on – at one point Sarah gets her bag that contained her regular glasses stolen, and laments that “now she is stuck wearing these”.
However, it presented a fantastic reason for her to keep filming while she is in such a perilous situation, a common flaw of the sub-genre.

Filming techniques aside, it takes 46 minutes for anything to happen in Jeruzalem. This is a one and a half hour movie. So being given a tutorial of a fancy gadget for half of what is supposed to be a horror movie is a tad unforgiving.

The story before that is a listless attempt at character development and ham-fisted jabs at relationship building.  If it isn’t the poor acting, it’s the distraction of the characters simply existing as archetypes and nothing more. The sweet, innocent girl and her concerned father (who literally sends her texts saying just that while she is straddling a guy…nude. Bit on the nose); the promiscuous and care free best friend; the guy who knows shit is about to go down but no one believes until it’s too late.

So nothing happens. And then it does, just like that, with nothing that really prefaces it. So now we’re running and screaming because directors The Paz Brothers thought that something should probably happen now. But from this point forward we get a dark, uninspired and derivative mess of a final act that kind of just make you want to check out the cool features on those glasses again.

Jeruzalem is an interesting concept gone horribly wrong. Not only is the story intriguing initially, the use of Smart Glasses is a fresh angle to approach found footage from. It’s too bad that Jeruzalem is so mind numbingly boring that when it comes to breaking new ground, it shoots itself in the foot.

Review Score: ONE STAR (OUT OF FIVE)

Jeruzalem is available to watch now on VOD.